Applicant Tracking Reports Make Data Meaningful

By William CEBS

Jan. 31, 2001

Applicant tracking systems collect a lot of data.Fortunately, the systems are able to make meaningful sense of this data throughtheir reporting functions, which cover a wide range of measures, from requiredreporting such as EEO-1 to financial reporting such as average cost per hire.What differentiates vendors is the flexibility allowed in the reportingfunction.

    On one end of the spectrum, some vendors provide a seriesof often-used reports that are hard-coded into the system. Such simple reportingkeeps overall system development and purchase costs relatively low. While thismeets the need of most users, there are companies that require more robust andflexible reporting. For these serious metric-minds, there are products thatallow customizable reporting by the user.

    These range from vendor-patented report writers within theindividual products, to adaptations of common report writers like CrystalReports. For further slicing, data can even be exported directly to programssuch as Microsoft Excel or Access. Obviously, this flexibility comes atincreased cost, but for those companies that take measurements seriously, iswell worth it.

    The ultimate goal of the reporting systems is to provide away of measuring the applicant tracking system’s effectiveness. In the end,the product should be able to tell you where you stand in getting the righttalent in the right amount of time for the least amount of money. Here are somecommon reports, and why they’re important to you.


1. Cost-Per-HireReport

What is it and why is it measured?
   As human resource departments search for every inch of costcontainment in their operations, increasing importance has been placed on theuse of metrics, or measures of performance. These can range from overalldepartment performance to average number of calls in the HR service center. Inthe recruitment arena, metrics are plentiful, with one of the more common onesbeing cost-per-hire. Many institutions and consultants, such as the SaratogaInstitute, have put forth widely accepted methods for determining cost-per-hire.The Saratoga Institute defines cost-per-hire as: 

Advertising Cost + Agency Fees + Employee Referral Bonuses+ Applicant/Staff Travel Costs + Relocation Costs + Recruiter Pay/Benefits + 10percent of the total of these elements, to account for miscellaneous costs(divided by) number of hires 

    Depending on a company’s ability to gather data, thereare even non-financial costs that can be factored in to this equation, such asthe time it takes to actually fill a position, the number of interviews inrelation to the number of hires, and even overall turnover. Regardless of thefactors used, the purpose of the cost-per-hire measure is to provide a benchmarkto use for budgeting and controlling costs. More specifically, it can even beused as a means for evaluating new programs, such as incentive options or hiringbonuses, where it is critical to assess the savings versus the other financialspending. 

How an applicant tracking system (ATS) does it
   Although cost-per-hire is an important measure for manycompanies, many applicant tracking systems do not offer this type of reportingon a standard basis. The reason? Every company has its own definition of whatgoes into cost-per-hire.  However,since many companies do want to capture this information, most vendors leave acertain number of user-defined fields in their applications that are programmedwhen the system is set up. 

    Once the fields are programmed, vendors can collectcost data from either manual input from HR staff, financial systems, or HRMS/payroll.With less expensive off-the-shelf software programs, companies will have to relyon the vendor’s definition of cost-per-hire, which in most cases will be apretty close number.

Practical uses
   Other than the more financial aspects of evaluatingrecruiting costs, cost-per-hire metrics can also help you evaluate your HRstaff. While many companies review recruiter performance on such measures as thetime it takes to fill an open job, additional standards can be set forcost-efficient hiring. By providing quick, dependable cost data, recruiters cansee where money is being spent and be held more accountable for controllingthose costs where necessary. Over time, benchmarks can be established and builtdirectly into performance goals for the upcoming review period.


2. EEO-1/VETS 100 Reports 

What’s required
   Within the context of the employment process, employersmust ensure that they are in compliance with all federal and state employmentlaws. As an outgrowth of the requirement to hire without regard to race, color,gender, national origin, or religion, employers with more than 100 employees arealso required to file annually an Employer Information Report (EEO-1), alsoknown as Standard Form 100. This report not only shows female and minorityrepresentation in the workforce, but also breaks down the workforce into ninedifferent job groupings, such as Professional, Sales Workers, Office, andClerical.

    Federal contractors have an additional requirement underthe Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 to show that theyare taking reasonable action in employing disabled Vietnam veterans or those whoserved in Vietnam. This is done through the VETS 100 report. 

How an applicant tracking system does it
   In general, ATS applications today provide the minimumlevel of reporting necessary to meet the compliance requirements of theDepartment of Labor. While information for the EEO-1 and VETS 100 is often notcollected until the applicant is hired and entered into the HRMS, most ATSapplications provide for and collect this reporting, with the expectation that alarge percentage of the information required by the HRMS can be downloadeddirectly at the end of the hiring process, thereby eliminating manual entry.

    General job group data required by EEO-1 is gathered bymost ATS applications during the job creation stage, when the hiring manager orHR staff identifies the position title, its requirements, location, the hiringmanager, and so on. Once the hiring decision has been made, the race and genderinformation is collected and can be entered into the ATS or HRMS, depending onwhere reporting will come from. 

EEO-1 in action
   Many of the more robust, Web-based ATS applications canmanage the entire hiring process, allowing managers a great deal of control inthe hiring process. In point-and-click fashion, hiring managers develop theirown requisitions, search applicant files, send letters/e-mails to applicants,and so on. Once the hiring decision has been made, HR staff can contact theapplicant with a letter of acceptance along with a request/e-mail asking forpertinent information, including EEO-1/VETS 100 information. 

    In its purest form,the hiring process can be an entirely paperless exchange, from the hiringmanager requesting the job to a newly hired applicant walking in the door. Whenannual reporting comes around, employers can either tap into their ATS for therequired reporting or run it from their HRMS that contains the information.


3. Hire-by-Source Report 

What is it and why is it measured?
   Gone are the days when you post a job, maybe put an ad inthe paper, review a bunch of résumés, and then start interviewing. Intoday’s tight labor market, especially for hard-to-hire areas such asinformation technology, human resource departments have to use anever-increasing number of avenues to find their talent, such as: 

  • Job boards on the Internet(e.g.,

  • Recruitment agencies

  • Print, radio, TV, and Internetadvertising

  • Your own employees

  • Career fairs 

    Many of these options are not cheap, especially radio andTV advertising. Job boards will charge a fee for each posted job, andrecruitment agencies can charge a hefty percentage, depending on the talentbeing sought. So how do companies get their hands on the most effectiveadvertising for a job? Use a “hire-by-source” or “media effectiveness”measure. Assuming that you know the cost for each recruitment source, it’ssimply a matter of counting up applicants and where they came from. Over aperiod of time, a company can figure out where it’s getting the most bang forits buck, and eliminate or restructure those avenues that aren’t paying off.  

How an applicant tracking system does it
   The hire-by-source reporting function shows the ultimateadvantage of automated applicant tracking. For the larger companies that receivethousands of résumés and walk-in applications, it would take months to go backand identify the sources for applicants. Even the most basic applicant trackingsystems provide a method for attaching the original source directly to theapplicant. A simple database query of these fields can tell you in a jiffy howeach of your sources compares. 

    Some systems will even allow a company toautomatically determine the best approach for posting a job on the basis of pastsuccesses for certain job titles. For example, if a company has had a lot ofsuccess in hiring programmers from a certain agency, the next time that positioncomes open, the job can be posted directly to that agency without any input fromthe recruiter. 

Practical example
   In addition to showing a company where its job-postingdollar is going, hire-by-source reporting can help determine the effectivenessof new programs. For instance, an HR manager has read an article aboutestablishing an employee referral bonus program, in which employees get moneyfor bringing a friend or colleague to an open position. 

    In order to make theprogram work, the HR manager has to determine just where her recruiting dollarsare going and how well her sources are doing. By running a hire-by-sourcereport, she determines that she has hired only two employees in the last yearthat have come through TV ads. She notes that she has spent $20,000 on those TVads, and promptly cuts the ads in favor of paying the money to loyal employees.She has been able to quickly assess the effectiveness of her hiring avenues andmake strategic decisions based on the data.


4. Requisition Report 

What is requisition management?
   When a manager has to fill a position, most companies havea formal process in place to get the ball rolling. Generally, it involves theopening of a requisition, or request for labor help that gets forwarded to theHR department. Included in the requisition are a number of items, such as jobtitle, responsibilities, required skills and abilities, salary grade, and anyother minimum requirements. Once this form has been approved by thepowers-that-be, it is then posted to both internal andexternal sites for applicant gathering. 

    The second half ofthe process involves the application collection and interviewing stages,ultimately resulting in a new hire somewhere down the road. Once the positionsare filled, the requisition is then closed. 

How an applicant tracking system does it
   Given that requisition management is the foundation ofapplicant tracking systems, most programs provide a wide assortment of reportsfor this area. The most common reports view the status of open requisitions,which can be sorted by recruiter, job title, location, or time-left-open. Butalso within the scope of requisition management is the applicant side of theprocess. For this area, there are reports that look at: 

  • How long a résumé has been on file

  • The number of applicants for a specific requisition,and whether they have been interviewed, denied, or transferred to anotherrequisition

  • Data that is required for an applicant, such as EEOinformation or references

  • Lists of people within the company who should be “inthe loop” for the filling of certain requisitions 

    Most of these reports are available only to recruitingstaff; however, more progressive companies are putting these view capabilitiesin the hands of hiring managers to offer full accountability for the entireprocess. 

How these reports can make an impact
   The bread and butter of applicant tracking systems is theirability to carefully organize all of an employer’s jobs (which could bethousands) and all of the applicants for these jobs (which could be tens ofthousands) into a user-friendly database. Given the large task of meeting suchhiring demand with, more often than not, limited recruiting resources, HRdepartments have to prioritize their hiring. That’s where the different typesof requisition reporting come in handy. 

    An HR manager can quickly determine theoldest requisitions and move them to the top of the pile. Or he can react to animmediate need for a mission-critical project by scanning the applicant pool forthe exact skills and abilities required. The speed and flexibility offered bythis type of dynamic reporting can pay huge dividends if a company can reach theright candidates even a couple of hours earlier.

Workforce, February 2001, Vol80, No 2, p. 65-67  SubscribeNow!

Schedule, engage, and pay your staff in one system with